Harrogate and District League: Softley does it for leaders to down challengers Clifford
Harrogate and District League leaders Rawdon Old Boys won the crunch battle of the title challengers as Clifford fell to a 3-0 defeat at the Leeds-based outfit.
Aidan Barry, Paul Butler and Chris Softley scored the goals as Clifford returned to action following a 77-day break.
The fourth-placed club have been blighted by postponements over the last two months, with their previous match resulting in a 4-2 win over Leyburn United on November 7.
Past league winners Kirk Deighton Rangers have also had a two-month wait for a competitive fixture but a winning return was denied in the final minute by Hampsthwaite United.
Joe Turley put Rangers ahead in the second half before the Harrogate outfit equlised deep into injury time at Barr Field.
Rangers boss Dan Marshall said: "You could tell both teams were rusty in the first half, which was not a great spectacle.
"We played better in the second half but you could still sense that both sides hadn't played for a number of weeks.
"We conceded in the last minute, and when you do that it always feels like a defeat. But a point shared was probably the right result on the day."
Bedale Town remain the likeliest challengers to reigning champions Rawdon after overcoming Whitworth Cup finalists Beckwithshaw Saints 3-1 away.
Luke Watson got Beckwithshaw’s solitary strike.
Wetherby Athletic A climbed above Clifford into third spot after a convincing 4-2 win over Knaresborough Celtic.Joe Wilks and Jonny Hadley both scored braces for the hosts, while Sam Davey and Edmore Marau hit the net for Celtic.
Leeds side Kirkstall Crusaders were the big winners of the afternoon with an 8-2 victory over Harlow Hill to remain perched in the top half of the table.
Boroughbridge A took three points in the only match in Division One with a 4-3 victory in the battled of the bridges against Pateley Bridge.
Tob Hardaker (2); Russ Robshaw and Chris Chapman got the goals for the victory, with Matt Mrayshaw, Criag Jarrett and Dan Brown on the scoresheet for Pateley.
Dalton Athletic, Hampsthwaite FC and Thirsk Falcons Res all progressed in the Intermediate Cup.
Elsewhere, Jonny Hewison scored twice as FC Harrogate thrashed FC United of Knaresborough 6-1 in Division Two.
Bardsey Reserves found form with a third league win in a row to beat Hampsthwaite United Reserves 5-1, while James Rose’ brace was influential in Pool A’s 3-2 win over Addingham.